Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Randall Terry (left) and Alan Keyes (right) amid protesters outside the entrance to Notre Dame
An unknown person, believed to be from New York, bailed former presidential candidate Alan Keyes out of jail, but the pro-life protester says he didn’t want to leave.
As WND reported, Keyes was arrested yesterday, along with 21 others, on charges of trespassing while he was protesting against Barack Obama’s abortion record at the University of Notre Dame, which invited Obama to speak at its May 17 commencement.
Now, WND is the first news source to speak with Keyes following his release.
“It was weird, because I said, ‘I don’t want to leave; I didn’t post any bond,’” Keyes explained. “But the police wouldn’t let me stay. I asked them, ‘Has anyone ever been re-arrested for resisting expulsion?’ They laughed, for they had never heard anything like that. It didn’t seem like the appropriate time to be engaging in civil disobedience.”
Keyes was quick to point out, however, that he sees his arrest not as a matter of defying the civil authorities, but as an act of obeying God.
“I do not see any issue that I have with civil authority, and therefore no civil disobedience is involved,” Keyes told WND. “The civil authorities are acting on behest of a private party, in this case Father Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. When I set foot on Notre Dame’s campus, I am, in fact, on Notre Dame’s property, but that property is also part – according to its own statement – of the community of my faith. So what goes on between myself and Notre Dame is then subject to the laws that govern the community of our faith; and those are not the civil laws, but the laws of God.
“It is not disobedience,” Keyes continued. “I am obeying the church’s teaching and the laws of God. Father Jenkins, in issuing the order he issued, acted unlawfully. When I act according to God’s will, and someone moves against me in that context, they go against the will of God, they are unlawful, and unlawful orders do not have to be obeyed.
“There was no civil disobedience going on; there was obedience going on,” Keyes insisted. “And obedience is what this is all about – obedience to the law of God.”
Alan Keyes being arrested yesterday
Even though Keyes won’t call it “civil disobedience,” he is willing to be arrested again, if that’s what it takes. In fact, he plans to resume his protest, and therefore likely return to jail, on Tuesday.
Keyes told WND he would have almost immediately returned to the campus, except that he has realized the importance of standing alongside others – who have come from as far away as Virginia and New Mexico, according to fellow pro-life protester Randall Terry – and therefore will wait for others to join him at the university in South Bend, Ind.
“This has been a watershed event for me,” Keyes said. “One of the things I found on the other side of this watershed is that community is one of the most essential aspects of what I am involved in. I am not acting as an individual; I am acting with and in the context of a community of the faithful. It’s amazing.”
Keyes is calling on others to join the community of protesters at Notre Dame, even unto jail, if necessary.
“While we were behind bars, we prayed deeply that the shepherds of our faith – the pastors, bishops and others – would be moved to come bear witness,” Keyes told WND. “Because I think that would deeply, deeply move and fire up the hearts and spirits of people in the church community throughout the country and through out the world, and I think it would light a fire in the context that we’re talking about, a spiritual flame that could transform the momentum of the pro-life movement.”
He continued, “The message is very simple: If they are moved by the truth that is being witnessed here, don’t resist, just come.”
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, who made headlines last week after he was also arrested on the Notre Dame campus, told WND earlier that the protests have given pro-life activists “a fresh line of defense to regroup.”
“We are asking people to come,” Terry said. “We want to have 50 or 100 people in jail next weekend, so that every time that the media discusses Obama speaking at Notre Dame, they talk about the fact that there are people in jail for protesting his appearance.”
“My goal, and my challenge to everyone, is to create such a political mud pit here that Obama chooses to not walk through it in order to speak,” Terry said. “The only way that’s going to happen is by massive social tension on the ground. That’s why these arrests are going to be so critical.”
Keyes concluded his interview with WND by reiterating his hope that the protests will make a difference.
“I think this is a moment that is really providential from God,” Keyes said. “What could otherwise work for evil – the focus upon Obama that could send a message through the world that somehow Christianity honors and approves of what he is, despite his extremist profession of that which is an abomination to God: abortion, infanticide and murder of innocent life – that could be a bad thing. But on the other hand, if there comes as a result of this a fervent witness from people drawn to just stand and prayerfully bear witness to the truth, then suddenly what was intended for evil will go throughout the world as a light shining against that darkness.”